Employment of ex-prisoners with mental health problems: a review

Ian Stewart Hamilton (University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Publication date: 14 March 2016



The purpose of this paper is to examine the research within the area of employment for ex-prisoners who have a Serious Mental Illness (SMI).


A review of the literature examining the employment of ex-offenders who have a SMI whilst also presenting a possible novel solution.


The research highlights a distinct lack of employment opportunities and numerous barriers for offenders with research often failing to distinguish between those who have mental health difficulties. However, early findings suggest that Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approaches can generate competitive employment for this population.

Practical implications

Offenders with a SMI are often routinely excluded from vocational services due to their mental health. This review has indicated that the way in which such offenders are treated in prison and reintegrated into the community needs to be addressed.

Social implications

By tackling this issue not only could the mental health and quality of life of ex-offenders be improved through sustained employment, but the marked economic costs to society that unemployment and recidivism encompasses could also be alleviated.


This review not only suggests a possible solution to the problems faced by offenders with mental health difficulties in gaining employment, but also presents a novel approach to future research that extends to outlining causal explanations for what works for whom.



Hamilton, I. (2016), "Employment of ex-prisoners with mental health problems: a review", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 40-53. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRPP-05-2015-0016

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